Monday, August 23, 2010

AND GOD CHOSE DREAMS by Michael L. Mathews

And God Chose Dreams is a 2008 Christian living book on dreams and dream interpretation by Michael L. Mathews. “More and more people are dreaming more frequently,” Mathews says (p. 14), and at “an alarming rate” (why the rate is “alarming” is never addressed). Mathews stated goal here is to inform the reader why dreams are significant, and why God communicates through dreams.

Mathews’ premise is highly suspect. He says more and more people are dreaming more frequently – who are these people? They’re people he knows, and they’re dreaming more frequently “lately,” and yet Mathews has extrapolated a pan-global phenomenon based on this infinitesimal sample size. Mathews talks as though things are so different in this generation, as though a special dispensationalist period began in, say, 2005. And the biblically-savvy reader must ask how the author can write an entire book on the topic without even addressing Peter’s announcement of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 and the beginning of the “last days” at Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21) with regard either to dispensation or the concept of the “last days.”

Mathews goes on to give four reasons why people are dreaming more: “our minds and thoughts are completely saturated,” “dreams and visions allow us to better align our thoughts with God’s thoughts,” “God stated that dreams would increase in the last days,” and “dreams are God’s personification of the gospel” (p. 15). The astute reader will note that regardless of one’s position on the “last days,” three of these four “reasons” have nothing to do with an increase in dreaming or dreaming in one time period versus dreaming in another.

God, at certain times, communicates with people through special dreams and visions – that I accept; the Bible is full of examples. But Mathews wants the reader to believe that God is speaking to each person in every dream – in essence, that dreams are inherently a form of supernatural communication. So, then, one of Abraham’s dreams where God shows up and has a back-and-forth conversation with him is equal to the one you had where you were running away from a vampire but couldn’t scream, and then all of a sudden you were jumping out of an airplane somehow, and then the guy from the Old Spice commercials was there (on a horse).  Insert Inception joke here.  It’s ludicrous. And the examples Mathews gives of interpretations of such nonsensical dreams are hardly compelling.

Mathews also inserts a lot of quotes about dreams from various famous people. Which is fine, except that he can’t seem to differentiate between a dream (a series of thoughts, images or emotions occurring during sleep) and a dream (a strongly desired goal or purpose).

And God Chose Dreams is self-published (AuthorHouse), and it shows. The book looks and reads like a first draft: the formatting is a disaster, and there are all the grammatical and typographical errors you’d expect to find in a book that’s never seen an editor. I will say that the cover design is well done, though, so it has that going for it, which is nice.

Mathews’ writing is often rambling and his sentences are sometimes peculiar, in part due to his style and in part due to the obvious lack of revision. Nobody should ever have to read a sentence like, “The New Testament is combined with numerous dreams and visions” (p. 92). Mathews uses “and/or” like it’s one legitimate word – you can play an and/or drinking game with this book. Most bizarre, And God Chose Dreams is full of block quotes, with citations, from Mathews himself. There’s no indication that these quotes are from other works; this is seemingly used just as a new and/or stupid way to highlight certain points.

Mathews holds to a Left Behind-style premillennialist eschatology – he’s one of those people who uses “rapture” as a verb and talks like the “end times” began during his lifetime – and since he spends so much time on the topic, if you don’t share his viewpoint, you’re going to be doing a lot of skimming and/or eye-rolling (even if you do share it, you may still wonder at some of Mathews’ bafflingly incoherent points – his assertion that Daniel 12:4 says that “time would speed up,” for example (p. 130)).

In the end and/or on the whole, And God Chose Dreams is poorly written, poorly reasoned, and poorly presented. I would recommend anyone and/or everyone to skip it.